“One day a man was sitting in his small boat on the Niagara River. The waters were calm, the breeze was gentle, and the sun shone brightly from a cloudless sky. Only moments before, the man had pushed off from the riverbank, and even now the shore was only a few feet away. Clearly, there was no cause for concern. As he baited his hook and cast his line into the water, his mind began to drift.
And so did his small boat. The movement was slow and imperceptible in the beginning, with the boat doing what any boat will do when left to drift along with the gentle current. But all drifts lead towards an eventual destination, and left uncorrected will move toward that destination as though by some strange and unseen force.
In his preoccupations of the moment, the man did not notice the increased movement of his boat. His thoughts were still on fishing as they had been all week in anticipation of this outing. There would be plenty of time for seriousness. For a little while at least, he would continue to relax and enjoy himself. He would ignore the challenges of life and use this hour to allow himself to drift.
Without warning, his thoughts were shaken from wherever they had wandered, back to the present. The sound seemed to come from nowhere, distant at first , but in the twinkling of an eye, it had intensified and was now almost deafening. His attention was seized not only by the sound, but by the movement, for his small boat was being propelled through the waters that were no longer gentle and calming.
He looked around him and for the first time he noticed the river banks on either side had retreated as though on a journey of their own. He had no motor on his small boat and had journeyed forth with only a single paddle. There had been no apparent need for a motor or oars.
He struggled to comprehend what was happening because It was as though he had moved from the calmness, the serenity, and the safety of one environment into the frenzied turbulence of circumstances beyond his ability to grasp or control.
In an instant the reality of his circumstances registered clearly. The thundering sound, the rising foam, the swirling mist, and the uncontrolled momentum of his boat created an instant picture of his horrid circumstances. He had cast himself and his small boat onto the Niagara River, and his drift had brought him to the threshold of the falls.
His mind flashed a collage of thoughts and emotions. If only he had thought about the consequences of his drift. If only he had been better prepared and had thought to equip his boat with a motor, just in case. If only he had noticed sooner, or if only…..
Only now did the man notice that crowd that had gathered along the banks on either side, as the word quickly spread about the boat cascading down the river toward irreversible disaster. It was as though those who knew what was about to happen were wanting to help, but to make any attempt to rescue this hopeless creature would serve only to jeopardize their own safety. Some made futile efforts to toss ropes or to hold out tree branches, but most stood stunned silence, witnesses to a tragedy that need not have happened.
In a fleeting moment he felt the impending doom of his own personal neglect. He was a victim of his own preoccupation – of his careless inattention to detail in an environment that had the capacity to swallow up his existence, his opportunities and his abilities, and to put all of his dreams to an end in one brief moment.
His one final thought was what he would do differently if only he had a second chance. His thoughts rushed through his mind with the same rapidity as the water passing over the edge of the falls, tumbling to their final destination hundreds of feet below.
Had he been given the gift of a second chance he would have allowed himself to see the possible future disaster well in advance. He would have seen it clearly in his mind before the event took place in reality. He would have anticipated the certain consequences of neglect. In his mind’s eye, he would have seen the rising foam, heard the roar of the falls and sensed his accelerated drift so that he might have acted without delay to move quickly to the safety of the shore.
If he could have been plucked from the waters instead of being consumed by them, he would have placed new value upon his talent, his opportunities and his time. He would not have allowed frivolity to capture his attention nor would he have permitted his desire for rest and relaxation to take the focus off the greater need for intense labor and measurable progress.
But unfortunately, he simply ran out of time.“
When we look at our own lives keeping this story in mind, there are many instances that we will be reminded of, when we too missed it all in the drift of our preoccupations. This a profound realization that occurred to me as I read this story today.
The one thing I am constantly reminded of is that we must always be in the moment, be in the present and that too with all our senses alert, at all times. We too may have no time on our side . we too may miss living….
Manesha S Sagarr